That’s according to the latest numbers from ComScore’s report on web metrics for July. In fact, the wildly popular social networking site moved up to the number three position for watching videos online in the United States, behind both Youtube and Yahoo. While there is probably much rejoicing at Facebook over the change in position, the numbers show the field isn’t really as close as it looks.
Google’s lead looks almost uncatchable, at least in the United States. It boasted 143.2 million unique views in July. Yahoo, at the number two spot, had only 55.1 million – much less than half that number. Facebook is not in a bad position to catch Yahoo, however, with 46.6 million unique video viewers.
The rest of the numbers show a much closer race than the one between Yahoo and Google. VEVO, the former number three, boasted 43.9 million unique viewers, followed by Microsoft with 45.5 million. But the number of unique viewers tell only half the story. What are those video viewers doing once they get to the sites and start watching?
Viewing videos, as it turns out, is not as passive as watching TV…and when someone changes the channel online it could just as easily be to another site as to another video. So how long do visitors spend watching videos as these sites? Well, Youtube watchers are really hooked; they spent an average of 4.7 hours per viewer. On the other hand, the number two site based on number of minutes each visitor spent viewing is something of a dark horse: Hulu. This video site ranked tenth for unique viewers, but each viewer spent an average of more than two and a half hours watching videos. None of the other video sites saw their viewers average more than 100 minutes.
So what is Hulu’s secret? It’s owned by NBC Universal, News Corp., and the Walt Disney Company, which means that it can legally show material from each of these companies. In fact, it may be the safest place to go to find TV shows online.
Facebook users apparently have short attention spans. They spent only 18.3 minutes, on average watching video in July.
Why do these numbers matter? Many videos start with ads. If you’re watching lots of videos, chances are you’re also watching lots of ads. And in fact, that’s true: Hulu even generated a higher number of video ad impressions than Google, at 783 million. That’s out of a total of nearly 3.6 billion video ads watched by Americans in July. Hulu’s ads reached more than a quarter of the US population. That’s not bad for video that isn’t typically watched in the living room. And it’s going to get an even wider reach: Hulu’s new paid subscription service, Hulu Plus, will also feature ads, and let users view TV shows on devices other than computers.
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